Production Lighting: How To Use a Camera-Mounted Light

In video production, using a mounted light is often the work of either journalists or amateurs. This does not necessarily have to be the case in your production. You've certainly encountered instances, say for events, when you suddenly have a bright light pushed on your face. The video result is, of course, squinting flatly-lit subjects with starkly dark backgrounds. In essence, using a camera-mounted light is not advisable. On the upside, having a camera-mounted light is better than having no light at all. Otherwise, you won't be able to shoot your video. Keep in mind, though, that having a mounted light will make your coverage a little more forced, and will result in very dark hardly-visible backgrounds. Here are some ways you can soften the blow of the camera-mounted light source.

Step 1: Canvas

Shop around for a good camera-mounted light. Look at user reviews, and compare not just prices but features. Knowing when you will need to use this light source will help you in your canvassing. One of the best camera-mounted lights right now is the LCD panel. This gives you more control, and also illuminates more evenly and more subdued. However, this can prove to be big and bulky, and is a little on the pricey side. If you're on a tight budget, go for more compact camera lights.

Step 2: Diffuse

If you find yourself having to shoot in darkened receptions and locations, like in a bar, you wouldn't want all your subjects raising their hands to their eyes and squinting at your lens. This does not make for a pretty video. Soften the glare of your light source. If your light's intensity can be adjusted, lower it a little. If not, tape a diffuser gel over it. This will not only help in giving you a less glaring light, it will also spread your light more evenly over your subjects. This will make your video appear softer and more relaxed.

Step 3: Unmount

If you have the option, it's best to unmount your light source from the camera. A frontal light source is the last resort for most videographers. If you're working with a small handheld, you can simply hold up your light source and angle it nicely on your subject. If you have an assistant with you, you have more freedom in controlling the light. Position him about 45-degrees from your subject for a nice subdued lighting.

Step 4: Stick to Close Ups

With a lighting source so compact and limited, you will have to be creative in your framing and shots. A camera-mounted light is not enough to illuminate an entire venue for a wide shot or establishing shot. You will need to stay close to your subjects and stick to close ups. This does not give you liberty to push yourself in your subjects' faces. You also want to be as less disruptive as possible. Try to engage your subjects more so you can have a more relaxed and candid outcome in your video.

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